BIBLE HISTORY DAILY

Board Games Were Status Symbols in the Ancient World

Bible and archaeology news

In the ancient world, board games, one of the world’s oldest hobbies, were played not only to pass the time, but also to signify the wealth and status of the players, according to a new study. Mark Hall, an historian with the Perth Museum and Art Gallery in Scotland, believes the process by which board games spread across the ancient world suggests they were passed along as elite gifts. “Many of the first board games appear to have been diplomatic gifts to signify status,” said Hall. “We have early examples of quite splendid playing pieces belonging to elite, privileged people.” Hall notes that many of the earliest board games from the ancient Near East, including the Mesopotamian game of Twenty Squares (similar to today’s backgammon) and the Egyptian game of Senet (which used a grid of 30 squares), were discovered as offerings or gifts in royal burials, such as the Royal Tombs of Ur and the tomb of King Tutankhamen.

Board Games Were Status Symbols in the Ancient World

In the ancient world, board games, one of the world’s oldest hobbies, were played not only to pass the time, but also to signify the wealth and status of the players, according to a new study.


 


 

More ancient games in Bible History Daily:

Roman Game Board Found in Turkey
Ancient Board Games: A Playful Look at Ancient Israel
Ancient Games: Bronze Age tokens uncovered in Turkey are world’s oldest game pieces
 


 

More ancient games in the BAS Library:

William W. Hallo, “Origins: Let the Games Begin!” Archaeology Odyssey, Winter 1999.
“Ancient Life: Shooting the Moon,” Archaeology Odyssey, March/April 2002.
“Ancient Life: Comic Relief,” Archaeology Odyssey, November/December 1999.


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